So you’ve climbed the change management career ladder. You’ve not only managed complex projects, but are starting to help the business manage the change landscape. Like most organisations, the business you are supporting is implementing various changes to stay competitive and relevant in this fast-changing world.
Like most others, you’ve produced manual change heatmaps to help them visualize how much change there is going on. They’re seeing which parts of the business has more change than others. They can now see the ‘hot spots’ where there could be too much change. Month in and month out you continue to produce the same reports for them. They start to get bored and ask … “Is there more to the change landscape than just looking at the question of ‘too much’ or ‘too little’?”
This is a very valid question indeed!
Across our change management industry, it seems that producing change heatmaps and being focused singularly on one question is the norm. We all know that change is complex. Change is evolving. Change is multi-dimensional. Change is more than just answering one question. Is there more?
Beyond just asking a singular, one-dimensional question of “is there too much change”. How do we graduate from this and progress to the next few stages of adding further value to the organization? Here are 5 ways to do this.
1. Focus on understanding what the change story is versus asking a singular question.
What is happening or going to happen to the business? Is the business focused in a disciplined way on a small set of changes that will create very large impacts? Are these due to significant operating model transformations that are necessary to take the business to the next level? Are these multi-year transformation programs? How do these translate to behavior, process and system impacts? Would we need to phase a series of changes to drive the behaviour changes?
Or is the business undergoing less transformational but a larger set of smaller changes to be more competitive in delivering better customer experiences, more efficient and effective operations at a lower cost? And therefore, are the people impacts more about connecting across the breadth of changes. Are the challenges on connecting the dots across a wide set of changes, versus a smaller core of large ones?
2. Collect other data to tell the story. Data has more weighting than opinions and assertions in the business decision making table. Change data regarding impact, timing, types of changes, number of people impacted, etc., will go a long way to tell the story of what the business will be experiencing. Make the data visual. Visual storytelling using data is becoming the norm in digital businesses nowadays. To graduate from manual spreadsheets of change heatmap, focus on digital change storytelling with data.
3. How is the change impacting various stakeholders such as customers, partners and subject-matter-experts?
A significant percentage of organisations state that they are focused on the customer. Does the business understand the nature of change impact on a particular type of customer at any given time? Without understanding this how could the customer experience be effectively managed? Producing data visualization of how the customer is impacted, at what time, and in what way, will go a long way to lead the business in understanding how best to manage the customer experience during change.
Similar data visualization can also be produced for other stakeholder groups such as partners, subject matter experts, and other groups.
This is an example of ‘Total Impact’ chart from The Change Compass where you can see the impact on stakeholders across time.
4. What is the pace of change?
Is the overall pace of the planned execution of the strategy going to meet the organisation’s targets? When we look at the lifecycle of the changes being planned including the time it takes to embed the changes to realize the benefits, is the pace fast enough? Alternatively, could it be that the business is over-zealous in driving change to the detriment of its people and customers? Is the question not that there is too much change, but that the pace is going too fast and we are not realistically factoring the time required to embed and land the benefits required?
One real example. A business has been focused on adopting agile ways of working. It has also been applying this to grow its business. As a result, the business has commenced a series of experiments to try and find ways to drive business growth. However, because there weren’t specifically defined targets from a planning perspective, the planned experiments kept getting delayed. As a result, the change pipeline became slow. Therefore, overall growth targets were not met.
This is an example of ‘Timeline Chart’ from The Change Compass where you can decipher the impacts of initiatives across time.
5. Focus on what the execution of the organisation’s strategy will look like and if it makes sense.
In planning the execution of the strategy, the strategy team rarely looks at the totality of change from an impact perspective. This is not due to a lack of trying but mainly due to lack of access to change data. Armed with change data, it is possible to understand to what extent different strategies are impacting different parts of the business, and whether these make logical sense or not.
Is there a diverse set of strategies that the company is implementing? Do these have wide-ranging impacts on various parts of the business or are certain businesses more impacted than others? How do we ensure that the ‘why’ of the change and how we are communicating initiatives are clearly linked to the same strategy across initiatives? From a prioritization perspective are there certain initiatives are that more core to the strategy? How do we ensure that these are given more ‘run-way’ to roll out the changes than others? And again how do we ensure that these are highlighted and clearly communicated to impacted stakeholder groups?
This is an example of a strategy implementation chart that visually illustrates the impact that each strategy has on the business and the various initiatives that are linked to the strategy.
Outlined here are just some of the ways in which you can ‘graduate’ from just focusing on change heatmaps as the only way to help the business visualize change. There are other ways in which change management can add value to the organization and we will continue to outline other ways in which this may be achieved. Stay tuned!